Saturday, 19 September 2020

What did we learn from day 1 of the World Series

As you all know, I don't put a great deal of emphasis on non-ranked events, not including them in my data sets and rarely covering them at all. However, with the limited amount of actual darts we have on, and with it being the return of darts with a crowd, I think it's worth having a quick scan through what we have seen.

Ward/Labanauskas - Not a lot to say here. Ward was pretty good in the two legs he won, but not outside of them. Labanauskas was probably a little bit better than the stats suggest, but not a huge amount, he was OK but that's about it. Hard to see how he comes close to Aspinall today.

White/Heta - Doesn't look great on the averages, but they missed a lot of doubles, Heta in particular, which dragged down the averages a fair bit. That Damon's able to take out someone of the quality of White isn't a shock, but it's useful in that it's more evidence of what he can do against the big names. Wright may be a different story.

Harris/Chisnall - Dave just couldn't score. Simple as that. Harris did what he needed to do, showed some flashes with a nice 11 darter to open the 2-0 lead, and in Gurney he's easily got the best draw, but he's going to need to keep up that 6/10 checkout rate you feel.

van der Voort/Cullen - Wow, Cullen regressed a lot in the space of a few days. He was looking really good in the Autumn Series, but he either couldn't score, or when he could score, he couldn't hit doubles. Vincent was fine, there was the one comedy leg where it went to 21 darts, but that's it. Could give Price a bit of a run for his money, Gerwyn should be strong enough, we don't bet on unranked events, but there's no real handicap angle we can take here.

Smith/Sherrock - Odd one. Jeff came from a huge deficit here, once he found his scoring which looked quite lacking early, as for Fallon, that performance was streaky as anything. Mix of couldn't hit anything and then finding herself on 60 and 81 after nine and cleaning up at others. Lack of big combination finishes, looking back to nine months ago, maybe the 120 in leg 7, the 108 the leg after, the 121 the leg after that, who knows. In two of those, she even came back to the oche and couldn't clean up. While Fallon's propensity to hit three dart outs at the worlds seemed unsustainable, she still should be cleaning up at least one of those. Can't see Wade having any trouble with Smith.

Ratajski/Suljovic - Good standard. Real good standard, not that we expected anything else. Maybe Mensur should have taken this one, going 3/12 on doubles wasn't great, and he was missing in bunches in the last two legs. Grab those and it's 5-4 and he'll have the darts for the match. Ratajski should be a favourite against Smith.

Durrant/van den Bergh - This looked like the old Dimitri where he has games where he can't do much of anything, or at least is wildly inconsistent. Leg by leg - still needing 100+ after 15. 11 darter. Misses eight darts at double. Still needing 56 after 15. Fairly standard six visit hold. Can't do much against a Durrant 13 darter, but a rare counting error if dartsdata is right? He's not usually that sloppy to leave 165. In the remainder, he just couldn't score heavily enough. Glen was good. Every leg but one was in five visits, can't complain with that.

Whitlock/Beaton - Strange to see both averaging below 90, Whitlock significantly so (would have guessed the other way around on form), when they're a combined 55% on doubles. Pretty obvious - they couldn't hit trebles, far too many 60, 59-type visits, Whitlock in particular having far too many visits with a stray dart. Cross isn't the worst draw for Steve but he'll have to pick his scoring up a bit.

Thursday, 17 September 2020

Autumn Series - Done

Finally caught up with the stats. Price managed the double bink, especially annoying given I had both Petersen and Ratajski down to win (as I had them each way I at least wasn't down) - still not quite sure how Petersen didn't get the bink, but with the way he's playing it's surely just a matter of time. Over the course of the five events he ended up with the third highest (Price, Wright) points per turn of anyone, we were seeing him look really good prior to the break, and he's continuing it, so he's got to be top of the list of the next players to get a debut bink.

Also up there was Joe Cullen, he always seems to have spells where he looks pretty unplayable, so maybe he can do some damage in Salzburg coming up this weekend. We then had de Sousa and van Gerwen (the former finally beating the latter), Wade being his usual consistent self, Smith scored well despite some bad draws, then Andy Boulton remained in the top ten, just ahead of Glen Durrant.

One thing that was noticeable was that quite a lot of players from Eastern Europe were doing well - Suljovic has been there for a while now and Ratajski has joined him, but we had Razma make a final. We've had Krcmar cash every event, get two board wins and pick up some big scalps. Sedlacek also won his board twice. Labanauskas didn't have a great time, but we'll see what he does tomorrow in Austria. Rowby managed to put out Peter Wright yesterday. Good times for that part of the world.

At the other end, John Henderson was really having a bad time. He picked up a grand, but ended up below everybody apart from Hogarth and Derry in points per turn. That's worrying. Maybe it's just a bad week, who knows. Also down there were de Zwaan, Webster, Woodhouse, but mostly the players you'd expect to show up at that end of the stats. In terms of results, Adrian Lewis was really poor, as was Michael Smith.

New FRH Rankings:

1 Michael van Gerwen
2 Peter Wright
3 Gerwyn Price
4 Rob Cross
5 Dimitri van den Bergh (UP 2)
6 Michael Smith (DOWN 1)
7 Nathan Aspinall (DOWN 1)
8 Glen Durrant
9 Daryl Gurney
10 Dave Chisnall
11 Gary Anderson
12 James Wade
13 Ian White
14 Krzysztof Ratajski
15 Mensur Suljovic
16 Adrian Lewis
17 Simon Whitlock (UP 2)
18 Chris Dobey
19 Jonny Clayton (DOWN 2)
20 Joe Cullen (NEW)

Bunting drops out from the post-Matchplay rankings, Cullen hitting a final and a semi being enough to get him back into the top 20. Otherwise there's not a whole lot going on - Whitlock having a decent enough series and Dobey just edging ahead of Clayton by about 100 points sees them swap places. Lower down, Heta's into the top 64 following his bink, Petersen hits the top 50, Razma's in the top 60, while lower down the pecking order Sedlacek and Kleermaker have hit the top 100, Telnekes is a board win away from the same, and Krcmar has hit the top 128.
Now we move on to Austria for the "World Series Finals" - not a huge amount I'm interested in seeing other than how Harris and Sherrock are doing, whether Ward, following the news that he is hanging up his tour card at the end of the year, is really playing with nothing to lose, and seeing how the dynamic of fans in the arena works again. There's a few decent first round ties I guess, so why not.
Then it's the return of the Euro Tour - now the last event before the Grand Prix. Heta and Whitlock are the last two players out, looking at who's qualified for it, King and Clayton are best placed to push the last qualified player (currently Razma) out, while further back you have Jeff Smith and Jason Lowe within reasonable striking distance, although both would need to go on a big run. Whitlock not making it (it's basically Dimitri nicking his top 16 spot that's caused him to miss out) is a sign of things to come I feel, he's repaired the Pro Tour ranking somewhat, but could still do with getting more. Dobey and de Zwaan are the last two players in, they're in the Euro Tour and a win each should be enough and could put Kim Huybrechts in trouble. We'll see what happens.

Monday, 14 September 2020

Event three done

Was a bit busier than I thought, so wasn't able to report on Damon Heta managing to bink a first ranking title and shove himself into Grand Prix contention (and back it up with a quarter final today), then we saw van Gerwen return things to normal somewhat. Who else is playing alright? If we look at results, there's been some other people doing well from a bit under the radar - Ross Smith's got two board wins, Cullen's made a final for the first time in a while, Willie Borland's picked up six wins, Lisa Ashton's made a bit of a breakthrough, while Boris Krcmar has two board wins and another board final. But what about the data?

If I shove the data into the master computer, Andy Boulton's hitting surprisingly good stats - the big three are in the top four for overall scoring, but Boulton rounds it out (he's actually above MvG) - ton average in a win over Meikle (who's not doing bad himself) then running into Aspinall, yesterday ton average over Alcinas, around 105 against both of Durrant and Searle before getting steamrollered by Bunting, then today he played two players with a good 2020 so far, another ton average against Jason Lowe then losing to DvD. Very consistent stuff, wouldn't surprise me if, given an alright draw, he can push deep into an event, he had three quarters last year, and the way he's playing, what's to say he can't do the same in the next two days?

There's several other players with somewhat smaller samples (Gilding, de Decker, Lennon, Meikle, Hopp, Zonneveld) who've done alright so far, with a bit more sample, Luke Humphries continues to appear solid, other than these and some of the players we've seen make very deep runs, it's mostly the usual suspects, so if we're looking for good value, Boulton at 300/1 has got to be the shot each way.

How about at the other end - McGeeney hasn't had a fantastic 2020, but is right down near the bottom. John Henderson has really struggled. Jeff Smith, often tipped to do well this week, hasn't got going at all. The biggest name to not do anything really is Jeffrey de Zwaan - he's made two board finals, sure, but he's not played well at all in getting those wins (only six legs in fifteen darts or better). Clemens has been somewhat unimpressive as well.

Elsewhere, it looks like the Nordic/Baltic tour has cried off Latvia, so seemingly Viljanen and Larsson will be back at Ally Pally - or, as I hinted at on the Weekly Dartscast last week, somewhere else. I find it hard to believe that, at T-minus three months to when they'd normally start it, that they wouldn't already be in the latter stages of planning things logistically. In this current climate, it is impossible to have any confidence whatsoever that they will be able to hold the event in London and not lose an absolute fortune. The latest round of idiocy re: six people is surely the nail in the coffin. Hearn and Porter just have to move it to an accommodating country, be that the Netherlands (maybe issues with Hills as sponsors there), Germany, Austria, Sweden - pretty much anywhere is a more viable location than London right now.

Sunday, 13 September 2020

Midway through event two

Hmm, them running the tourney on German time meant that it started a fair bit earlier than I anticipated, so wasn't able to get much out yesterday. Bit of a surprising result with Madars Razma reaching the final to shove himself into Grand Prix contention, in an event where Erik Middelkoop commenting that we had eleven different nationalities winning boards. Would it be that hard a stretch to see sixteen different nationalities? Let's have a think, obviously it'd require quite a specific draw, but let's go with:

Netherlands - MvG
Scotland - Wright
Wales - Price
England - now who is the best English player right now? Let's just put Durrant
Poland - Ratajski
Northern Ireland - Gurney
Germany - Clemens
Australia - Whitlock
Belgium - van den Bergh
Austria - Suljovic
Portugal - de Sousa
South Africa - Petersen

That's twelve, and nobody would blink in the slightest if any of those won a board at all, even if in Whitlock's case it's based on experience and track record rather than current form (shove in Heta if you like). Then you need four more. Krcmar won his board yesterday (and is at it again having turned over Ratajski and Lowe already today). Sedlacek did. Razma obviously did. Labanauskas is a world quarter finalist. Lennon and O'Connor have reached tour finals. Any of the Spanish lads can do so on their day (Noguera did yesterday, while Reyes and Alcinas at least have that peak level). Jeff Smith absolutely can. Kai Fan Leung is dangerous enough on his day. That's plenty of options to go with.

I'll post a FRH rankings update at the end of the day, one thing to note is that Dimitri, on account of his Matchplay win not aging, is up into the top five already, and that Wright is now within 50k of MvG for the top spot - it'd require him running hotter than the sun to close that down before the Grand Prix, but it's entirely possible that he could claim the number 1 spot at the Grand Prix - if he binks it, I don't think there's anything Michael can do to stay at number one.

Friday, 11 September 2020

Some quick World Series thoughts

These things often throw up an unexpected qualifier, but I don't think there was anyone hugely expected, apart from possibly Harry Ward, but you can't really call someone who's won a Pro Tour event in the last couple of years truly unexpected. Maybe beating Chris Dobey in the final round was, but there you go. Beaton, Cullen and van der Voort also made it through, with Clemens, Noguera and Razma the other finalists, fairly strong field.

I'll have a quick look at the runs of those that made it through to see what was going on - Beaton first won one against van Duijvenbode because Dirk forgot how to score, was slightly better against Hamilton, was unimpressive against Lennon then had probably his best game against Clemens in the final, although Clemens missed three clear for a break in the seventh, Beaton could easily have broken back if things stayed the same, but who knows.

Cullen looked really good against Ryan Meikle, not so much against Barrie Bates which could easily have been gameflow with both the first two legs going over six visits, reverted to solid against Callan Rydz (who also looked generally good), one comedy leg aside, then was more or less par for the course against Noguera, who really should have gone 4-3 up but missed doubles.

Ward was the real surprise. He didn't play very well in any of his games - his game against Dekker in the opening round was probably his best - winning five straight from two down with three in a row in five visits, but he only managed this once against O'Connor (two of his winning legs being last dart in hand in the seventh visit), twice against Bunse coming from a 3-0 hole which wasn't too bad, only managed one fifteen darter against Murnan but was at least pressuring well, then neither him or Dobey managed a leg in five visits in a pretty poor game. Here's where averages can be misleading - Dobey's 76 looks piss poor, but if Ward had have cleared up the comedy leg by finishing 24, Dobey's average goes up 7 points.

This leaves van der Voort - very good against Payne, Josh also playing well, neither doing much wrong with a combined average of effectively a ton, similarly high standard against Kantele, although maybe he was a bit lucky as Marko looks to have had at least one dart for the match, possibly two. Final two games against Waites and Razma weren't great, but it wasn't exactly a horrible standard.

Anything else of note? Maybe Ron Meulenkamp's one to watch - hitting 101 against Webster (who averaged 72?), 97 in claiming a decider against de Sousa and then 104 in defeat to Dobey isn't bad, he does have course and distance in these for a semi and he's 225/1 who offer four places each way, so that might be worth a punt dependent on where he lands in the draw. Jason Lowe doesn't seem to have missed a beat, only losing a decider to Clayton, Clemens continues to look strong, and Razma seemed a bit more consistent with his best game, which is nice to see.

May chuck up some each way punts tomorrow morning. We'll see.

Thursday, 10 September 2020

Brief pre-Autumn series update

Not really been a huge amount to say of late with there being no darts - BDO finally gone bump it seems, we've got a decent tour card holder turnout for the Autumn series, no Anderson is somewhat understandable given his prior reluctance to play any sort of minor event on the continent, the plus side is that he's also out of the World Series finals which has bumped Ratajski in, whose omission in the first place was a joke.

Looking at who else is out, it seems to be mostly lower ranked UK players who I guess bizarrely thought it wasn't worth the money/hassle/effort (Atkins, Barnard, Penhall, Worsley, maybe chuck Stevenson in there), van Duivenbode we knew about, Teehan is injured, Kyle I assume is still locked up in Oz, that just leaves Reyes, don't really know the situation in Spain/Germany re: travel but if Alcinas and Noguera have made it, who knows, then also Harms, who also missed the Summer Series so who knows what is up with him. Odd that he was a bit outspoken about what happens to new card holders in the wake of coronacold cancelling everything, but then ignores 750k's worth of events. Half of which he doesn't even need to catch a flight for. Truly odd.

Keep an eye on Twitter, I'll post up some thoughts on the bracket on Saturday, I don't think I'll post anything on the World Series qualifier tomorrow, although it may be a useful data point in terms of how some of the players who aren't already in are performing.

Wednesday, 19 August 2020

Brief Modus follow up

Someone mentioned me on Twitter, saying that the rumoured money for the Modus events was 500 for a win, 200 for runner up and 150 for showing up. That's not a massive amount if it's accurate, but a bit better than I thought. The problem is with the league structure - it's very easy to get plenty of dead rubbers, either because both are out of contention after early losses, or one is done and the other has close to swept the group. We've even seen this sort of thing in the Grand Slam, we only need to look at weird stuff like Darren Webster sweeping Taylor after Phil's already won the group and Webster's been eliminated - I must see if that match is on Youtube, I swear Taylor must have put his first dart above the top wire more often in five legs than he'd normally do in a whole tournament.

Two things you can do here. There's a budget of £1600 available, so what you can do is:

a) Just give £100 for each match win. There's 15 games in a six player group, so that's comparable. No money just for turning up, every game's a cash game. Have a £100 rolling over bonus if you sweep the group to keep the money the same.

b) Bin off the league format, invite 8 players per day, and do two four player double elimination pools. This makes every game count - how it works basically:

Game 1 - A v B
Game 2 - C v D
Game 3 - Loser 1 v Loser 2 (loser eliminated)
Game 4 - Winner 1 v Winner 2
Game 5 - Winner 3 v Loser 4 (loser eliminated)
Game 6 - Winner 4 v Winner 5 (winner advances to the final)

It's not true double elim, as in that whoever won game 5 would usually have to beat the undefeated player (in double elimination jargon, whoever won the winners bracket) twice, but that would probably be a bit confusing for the public. It may not offer a huge amount of lead time for bookies to get markets up, but they're able to do that for the UK Open easily enough, you only need to price up four games you wouldn't have done at the outset anyway.

You then do the same with the second pool, the winners then play off for the win on the day. Because this also gives you a natural second, third and fourth placed finisher in each pool, it's possible to structure the money so that it works out more equitably - something like 600-300-200-200-100-100-50-50 works fine and doesn't involve any tie break/leg difference shenanigans.

A quick one on them sorting the Grand Slam criteria. The PDC has been somewhat hamstrung by coronacold continuing to disproportionately ruin everything, so they're fairly limited as to what they can do, but I think they could have done a little bit more. Not inviting John O'Shea seems like a big miss, only inviting two from the BDO (Warren/Suzuki) is a bit sad really, when they're seriously doubling down on just the Pro Tour (having a spot for each of the Summer/Autumn/Winter series is odd) and still having eight players from a qualifier.

I do in fact wonder if they'll actually fill the 22 spots at all. There's 10 players in via the main spots (Wright, Price, DvdB, Humphries, van Gerwen, Aspinall, Wade, Anderson, Gawlas and Smith). There's then Searle, Ratajski, White and Joyce from the Pro Tour. Who is out there that is going to be good enough to win a spot? There's 8 left - maybe Cross can join with Smith and final the World Cup, perhaps whoever grabs the second Dutch spot does the same, but I think we're really lacking in players outside of maybe Durrant who can win through to a major result. So let's say that Scotland fuck the World Cup up and the final is MvG/Noppert against Smith/Cross (might not even be possible if Scotland are the #1 seed and Netherlands/England are #2/#3 in some order, but humour me for a minute). Name six different players that will bink a Pro Tour or Euro Tour. Chisnall maybe. Gurney maybe. de Sousa maybe. Durrant for sure. We're then starting to look towards players who are past their peak and out of form, or who are possibilities but an actual bink would still be a surprise.

Tuesday, 18 August 2020

Maybe Nijman will punt the Dev Tour and risk quarantine OH GOD NO

I made a quick throwaway post yesterday just to pass the time, let people know I've not succumbed to coronacold, just chuck some comments in about what's happening with the darts, and then boom! Wessel Nijman and Kyle McKinstry have been found to have been match fixing, and are subject to bans from the DRA.

This is a bit of a disturbing one, and one that as a blog, whose main purposes include giving betting tips (maybe its primary purpose), I feel the need to address.

The first one is that I've always felt that the whole Modus series of events was a bit weird. There were multiple online events taking place during the main coronacold season - we (eventually) had the PDC Home Tour, we had the Remote Darts League (which I guess given the length of time after the second one made no money for anyone, hence we've not had a season three), but after that, we had Modus's events and not much else.

The odd thing was that they were seemingly just darts for the sake of darts. There was no real tournament structure - they just chucked several of their own non tour card holders against each other (and others, I don't think Jose Justicia, Martin Adams, Boris Koltsov or Paul Nicholson are associated with them, certainly none of them are listed on their list of players, but they all played them at some stage), day in day out, in a streamed environment. That leaves the question as to why?

It's pretty obvious. Professional darts doesn't exist without betting companies. Every single primary sponsor of the PDC is involved in gambling. If Modus was interested in keeping their players in form and that's it, they could have arranged such a thing just on Dart Connect. But no, there's money to be made here. The entirety of the sporting world ground to a halt (for nothing). Bookies were desperate for us to punt on something. Modus *have* to have been getting some sort of royalties for allowing their events to be streamed through bookies everywhere. It's win-win for everyone, right?

Well, no. How much of whatever Modus would have been making would have filtered its way down to the players in the event? I'm guessing next to fuck all. We just go back to the RDL - they had a decent prizepool for a couple of seasons, then nothing since June. How much could Modus have possibly offered the players to keep showing up day in and day out? I've got to guess it'd be barely minimum wage, but unless any player comes out with what they've been paid to play in the events, we'll never know.

As such, while it's obviously wrong, it's understandable why some players would be tempted to take some additional cash. Looking at the two matches I've seen listed, they were both seemingly 5-0 wins. If we assume that the players in question are fairly closely matched (and there's no reason to think that they aren't), then a correct score of a 5-0 sweep would probably be priced in the region of 12/1, if not more. A 7-0 win in the closest matched Premier League game that's next up is 100/1 in comparison. For a player that doesn't have a tour card, in a pandemic situation, with no indication of any actual tournaments where they can generate income, then it's not unreasonable to think that, if you're being offered little in terms of actual show up and/or prize money, then a fair sized sum would be pretty tempting, and fairly undetectable.

Let's do the maths. I want to make £5k from telling Joe Bloggs to lose a match of darts. I chuck him £2k to say lose every leg. That's the same money you'd get from winning a Challenge or Development Tour. There is no reason to think that there is any way that such events, or any events, will happen in the near future. How much would I have to put on to make £7k? If we say it's, I don't know, 14/1 to get whitewashed, that's only 500 quid that I'd need to put on. It's really not that hard to find enough people to put on a fiver here, a tenner there, across enough bookmakers that it wouldn't generate any suspicion. Heck, if there's liquidity on the exchanges then you don't even need to worry about the bookies losing out, as long as they get their commission they don't care.

Modus needs to come out right now and detail what they were paying the players to pay in their events, both in terms of showing up money and prize money. That will give us a huge clue as to what is going on. But for now, the biggest thing that readers can take out of this, which I've stressed continually by not covering them, is DON'T BET ON FRIENDLIES. With nothing ranked at stake, and no indication as to what the players are getting, you've got to think that there's a decent non-zero chance that the games are bent. Just say no kids.

I suppose the most disappointing thing is the players that are involved. Nijman is an up and coming player with a potentially great career ahead of him. McKinstry was able to win more in the UK Open than I make in four months work and certainly isn't towards the end of his career.

I'll be back later with some thoughts about the Grand Slam, but for now, I'll just leave this here.

Monday, 17 August 2020

Challenge Tour and Development Tour

Am I the only one that's seeing a huge potential issue with the remaining Challenge Tour, Development Tour and the early rounds of the world youth being held in Barnsley? It's quite simply this - our marvellous government that is rivalling the BDO for general incompetence has put the Netherlands on the unclean list. Now for the proposed Winter Series, also intended for the UK, it's not quite so much of an issue for the PDC, as they'll surely just bubble off Milton Keynes, and it's a smaller scale so not as much of a problem. But for the Challenge Tour and Development Tour? Nobody in their right mind is going to come over for these from the Netherlands (or whatever other countries might have variance in the irrelevant stat that is coronacold cases in the coming weeks), unless they get a guarantee they can run straight down to Harwich and get the night boat home and not have to flick their plums for two weeks. I've certainly binned off the Amsterdam portion of my upcoming holiday as a result. Maybe someone like van de Wal or Konterman might punt it on the Challenge Tour, or Nijman, van Peer or Zonneveld might have a go from the Development Tour - but that's only because they're in a position to qualify for the worlds.

The PDC have to address this issue fairly sharpish. Right now, you'd have to say that with the Dev Tour weekend clashing with a Euro Tour, anyone that's on that that isn't a tour card holder from the Netherlands is surely going to drive across to Hildesheim. The Challenge Tour probably doesn't have the same problem, as their weekend clashes with the Grand Prix, so they're not going to schedule one of the two dates they're intending to squeeze in at that time, but with local events starting to open up here, surely someone in the Netherlands is going to look to play a local comp?

One thing they could look to do is to have the two things be a multi venue event. Hire a venue in the Netherlands - that place where they were going to hold a couple of Pro Tours would do. Draw things as normal, if you have a situation where you have players in different venues facing each other, you just use DartConnect to solve the scoring issue. They should be able to set up both venues to have more or less the same playing conditions.

Of course, this may all be concern over nothing, we could see half the cabinet resign due to every single decision they've made being a colossal fuck up since, ooh, mid to late March, and we get a new bunch in that recognise coronacold was never as big a crisis as feared, the initial objective of "protect the NHS" was accomplished in April, and let people do normal stuff again. But I won't hold my breath.

Saturday, 8 August 2020

Couple of quick comments

I've got round to updating the second and third division darts pages following the Summer Series and Matchplay. The third division is unchanged, the only games was Humphries and Noppert repeating the same score they had earlier this year, while in the second, there was at least a few games, Dobey managing to climb up into second with wins over Dimitri, Adie and Jose fitting in between a couple of losses, White still leads by a clear point and Ratajski rounds out the top three. Our newest major champ is fourth, although his win over Lewis was one of only two games that affected the standings, the other being Mensur's first round win over Jamie Hughes. Suljovic is off the bottom now, although only a tiny amount above Adie, who only added those two losses listed.

Other news of note is that Mike van Duivenbode is taking a break from the game, seemingly he has some sort of injury that he can't shake. Seems like a sensible enough move - he's almost certainly losing his tour card at the end of the season, so playing through an injury in what remains of the year for little probable gain appears extremely sensible. Pity when this sort of thing happens to someone fairly young, hopefully the break will allow him to get where he needs to be, and maybe we see him either at Q-School or in next year's Dev Tour.

One thing I would recommend listening to is the special Weekly Dartscase Alex put together on the county scene (or, right now, lack of it) - it makes for fairly troubling listening in that you've got three competing interests that appear on it (not counting the whole MAD thing), fragmentation of the grass roots game really isn't what's needed right now, I think what we'll see is the entirety of it consolidating into one thing within a year or so, but what direction that is remains to be seen. At least even the BICC guy was aware enough to distance between the higher level arm of the BDO (the one that's going broke), but we all knew the counties ran themselves away from them in any case.

Tuesday, 4 August 2020

News! Thoughts!

After what seemed like a potential quiet spell, there's been a shitload of news over the last couple of days, so let's go through some of it:

- There's an Autumn Series of Players Championship events in Germany next month, with the thought of a Winter Series back in the UK some point before the end of the year. This seems to overwrite the Jena Euro Tour event, which I'm guessing might have been as a result of the Germans not letting enough crowds in, we'll see whether they cancel or reschedule. Still, at least they now have a bit more certainty for the Pro Tour. Germany's an odd choice in that the UK government seem to be flicking between coronaplague policy seemingly at random, but we'll see what happens.

- They've announced the end of the Challenge/Development Tours in three day, six event marathons in late September (Dev Tour, with the early stages of the world youth the day after) and early October (Challenge Tour), which is good news. Important that non card holders get a bit of knowledge as to what's going on, although given that they were thinking whether two in a day is viable, trying six in three could be a bit of madness. You'd think they may not have quite the same numbers as the first weekend, so a priority of getting as many in as possible isn't quite as nuts as it first seems.

- They've also announced a four event women's weekend, that'll also serve as qualification for the worlds. Seems fine by me, but who actually goes for it will be the big question.

- Finally, they've announced the World Series players - they have MvG, Wright, Price, Smith, Cross, Aspinall, Gurney and Anderson as seeds, then Wade, Chisnall, White, DvdB, Suljovic, Sherrock, Whitlock, Heta, KAnderson, Harris, JSmith and Labanauskas as invites. Some odd choices for invites - I don't think they need quite so many Aussies, given it's a World Series event then surely there's got to be a huge case for Ratajski and de Sousa to get the nod, oh well. At least those two (and Durrant, for that matter) should be extremely high on the seeding list for the last four wildcard spots.

Still a bit of a quiet time in general though. Will be back with some things soon, but one thing I want to point out that Dimitri did in the final. Look at his second visit in these two legs late in the match:

These are in back to back legs with Dimitri being three away from the title at the start of it. Having left himself a poor score in the first visit, he has the knowledge to know that a straight ton doesn't leave him the ability to go out in six darts - 345 and 342 respectively are bad shouts, whereas a 95 leaves 350 and 347 - both of which allow you a chance at a miracle 180-huge out. It's a tiny thing that probably makes a difference once in 10,000 legs, but what it does show is the clarity of thinking the kid has under the biggest pressure of his career.

Tuesday, 28 July 2020

And Dimitri wins

Pretty impressive performance. Maybe Gary could have taken more advantage of the slack legs from the Belgian (ten of his eighteen legs won were in more than fifteen darts), but Dimitri got four critical four dart kills, three of them breaks, and was putting relentless pressure on the Anderson throw - in the legs Anderson won, Dimitri was averaging over 103, completely the opposite of the severe up and down game he used to have. It was always said that if Dimitri could drastically improve his B-game (or get one, it always used to be A and then something in the middle of the alphabet), he'd be dangerous, it looks like it's finally happened.

New FRH rankings:

1 Michael van Gerwen
2 Peter Wright
3 Gerwyn Price
4 Rob Cross
5 Michael Smith (UP 1)
6 Nathan Aspinall (DOWN 1)
7 Dimitri van den Bergh (UP 12)
8 Glen Durrant
9 Daryl Gurney (DOWN 2)
10 Dave Chisnall (DOWN 1)
11 Gary Anderson (UP 2)
12 James Wade (DOWN 2)
13 Ian White (DOWN 2)
14 Krzysztof Ratajski (DOWN 2)
15 Mensur Suljovic (DOWN 1)
16 Adrian Lewis (UP 2)
17 Jonny Clayton (UP 1)
18 Chris Dobey (DOWN 3)
19 Simon Whitlock (NEW)
20 Stephen Bunting (DOWN 4)

Obviously Dimitri's the big winner, Anderson hasn't made as much ground as you might have thought, but he was a lot closer to the players just behind him than those ahead, he's less than a grand ahead of Wade, although less than 200 quid behind Chisnall. Cullen, despite getting a win, drops from the top 20 due to Whitlock getting a quarter final. Vincent's up to 27, just ahead of Mervyn King.

Interestingly, the gap between van Gerwen and Wright is the closest it's been for a while, it's down to only 105k, if Wright had have binked he'd be number 1. Oh well.

Sunday, 26 July 2020

What the hell is going on

Predicting a Smith/Durrant final was more or less the kiss of death for both of them, wasn't it? Dimitri seemed to out-Glen Glen, with Dimitri not winning a single leg in four visits (in contrast to Durrant's four), instead piling in the five visit kills, slotting in a solid near-93 average in the losing legs to always be there or there abouts. Meanwhile Anderson needed a small amount of overtime to get home after it looked like Smith had done enough with a six leg burst to get the key break for 15-14 from a 14-9 deficit, but a 116 out for a twelve to level (after Smith had missed the bull to go one away) was critical, and Smith failing to get more than one treble in any visit in the final leg was enough. This was a weird one, Anderson could easily have been clear, but allowed Smith three separate breaks of throw in six visits, which at this level is really unforgivable.

As for the final, we either get Anderson defending all his money with interest (as an aside, it's pretty lol that they each got 20k for reaching the final compared to the 25k for reaching the semis), or we get a first Belgian winner of a major, which would lift Dimitri, already at an FRH ranking high of #13, up to #7 and surely a lock for the Premier League in 2021, assuming the powers that be do recognise that this is a cold that's going round and not the bubonic plague. Their stats in the Matchplay are remarkably similar - both have lost 41 legs while Gary has won 55 compared to Dimitri's 54, both are scoring 93 in winning legs (DvdB is about half a point higher) while Dimitri's doing the same in losing legs, about three points higher than Gary. Neither has been prolific in power scoring legs, only having three twelve darters a piece, both doing their damage in relentless 13-15 dart legs. Anderson doing this slightly more gives him a tiny edge on the "just Matchplay" projections at around 53/47, but Dimitri scoring more all round makes this too close to call.

What about longer samples? On both just 2020 and a full twelve months, this favours Anderson considerably - somewhere in the mid 60% range up to around a 2-1 favourite. Does this suggest a bet? Not really. Gary's 8/13, which isn't really tempting enough over the course of longer samples, factor in that Dimitri's been playing the slightly better darts over the week, and the edge that the larger dataset points to probably disappeared. As such, there's no bets to recommend, so the near 2 unit lead we had built up this year has gone and the year to date stats are down to about a quarter of a unit loss. Which is a shame, I think I'd make all the bets again, we just had a few people critically underperform.

Where we go after this is unclear - there's a great lack of action, I would have thought the PDC would have announced another series of five Pro Tours at some point in August, but there's nothing yet (maybe they are waiting until after the Matchplay), there's an intriguing to be confirmed set of Challenge Tour events in MK in mid August before the Premier League catches up, but there's nothing ranked until Hungary in September. Meanwhile in the WDF side, there's nothing scheduled until minor events in Iceland in September. So we'll probably have to do a bit more filler, we do have stuff to catch the Second/Third Division Darts up a bit, but what we do outside of that, who knows.

Saturday, 25 July 2020

Then there were four...

Stats of the semi finalists in this tournament:

This really should be Glen's to lose now. Smith's playing at a slightly higher standard in terms of the legs he's won, and is certainly more explosive, but he's got quite a few more legs in over six visits than Glen has and is considerably worse in the legs he's lost, so if it was to be a Smith/Durrant final (as I think it will be), I think Glen will be able to grind out enough that he'd be able to claim the title. Of course, there's games to be played before that can actually happen, what do we think will happen in them?

It's Smith/Ando first. The bookies have this even, Anderson is actually evens with Michael just a shade ahead at 10/11. On the form shown in the Matchplay, this shouldn't be close in favour of Smith. Over all of 2020, this is fairly even, Smith showing a marginal edge in the low 50's percentage wise. Over a twelve month time frame, Gary takes a solid 60+%. Which do we believe? Probably the middle one. Anderson's been fairly mediocre, but being one game away from a final, and realistically speaking this could be his last chance of winning a big major (he will be 50 by the time the next worlds ends) and if he can't raise his game for this one, he surely can't raise his game for anything. There's also the whole psychological "mentor" thing that Sky bring up, as well as the pressure that Smith still hasn't won a major title of any description. Should be close, wouldn't surprise me if it went to extra legs, it also wouldn't surprise me if Smith opens up the sort of lead that Cross opened up on him in last year's final. No value here.

Then it's Dimitri against Glen. Durrant's been in a few major semis on the PDC side but has yet to win one, whereas this is, I believe, Dimitri's first. Glen's just a little bit better on everything, but Dimitri has enough talent and has cut out enough of the times where he just goes away in a game at this stage to be in with a chance. Over twelve month stats, I'm seeing around 65/35 in favour of Durrant, more like 70/30 on 2020 form, while it's more like 75/25 looking just at the 76 legs they've won combined this week. 4/7 is very close to value on Glen, but the line looks close enough to correct to not bet on this one, there's enough of a combination of Dimitri having improved and maybe Glen seeing the final that I'm hesitant to recommend a play. Glen certainly didn't look outstanding against van der Voort, and if Vincent didn't have those two consecutive legs where he let Glen win in 23 darts having missed tons of doubles (the second being the one where he went on monkey tilt), we'd probably be talking about a different semi final. 14-8 would have been a huge lead to claw back.

Should be two very good semi finals, it really wouldn't surprise me if we got a match of the year contender in one of these, have we really had any so far apart from that Dobey/Ratajski UK Open game? Or that Price/Petersen Pro Tour semi final?

Friday, 24 July 2020

If my tipping quality continues like this Duzza is fucked

Hmm, didn't expect Ratajski to lose that comfortably, Smith played OK but it wasn't anything that Ratajski wouldn't have been able to handle normally you'd have thought. Meanwhile in the other quarter, Whitlock was able to hang around with Anderson until 12-12 before Gary pulled away to set up a repeat of a Grand Slam last 16 from 2017 (Ando won that one 10-6), they've only actually met in a ranked event once since then, which comes as a bit of a surprise, but there you go.

One thing I do want to note, which is a very good development - van der Voort did this in the penultimate leg of his match with Gurney, and Ratajski also did it separately against Wattimena very early on. Wanting 132, they went bull first dart, and after hitting bull, both went to 14's and hit, Vincent missing the outshot but Ratajski hitting it. This is excellent news in that they're both seeing sense as to what to do when both opponents were on a big number for double return. You need to hit two targets, go for the biggest one. Then again, Whitlock did manage to clog up the treble 20 heavily enough on a 120 out that he thought it best to go bull-bull (and hit lol), so who knows.

Thursday, 23 July 2020

Matchplay quarters

What was already not a great Matchplay got a bit worse by Noppert being completely unable to score heavily against Lewis, it's somewhat of a miracle that he was able to keep it as close as he did for as long as he did, but that level of checking out was clearly unsustainable for the long haul. Elsewhere, Gurney went out as seemed a possibility, Dimitri got over the line in a tight one against Cullen, and Durrant beat Wright in a bit of an upset - seems like more or less a two horse race for the title between him and Ratajski, but it is incredibly wide open. The stats from the first two rounds for those who are left:

That's a bit small but it should be legible - and should indicate what I was saying, this looks like a straight fight between the top two here. Of the remaining games, tonight we've got a flip between Ratajski and Smith while Ando's around a 2-1 favourite against Whitlock, while Lewis and Dimitri looks like a flip as well, with Duzza being about a 5-2 favourite over Vincent. What do we like?

0.25u Ratajski 19/20, on pure natural talent this is the best chance Smith might ever get to bink a major, but he's going to know that, he was a bit fortunate against Suljovic, but he's got a very tough task here. On 2020 form he's not even at 40%. On twelve months form he's more like 35%. Taking the Pole as a flip looks to be a real solid play (then again, we said the same things last night about Noppert, so...)

Nothing on the Whitlock game. 9/5 just isn't quite fat enough. It looks flat out bad on a twelve month sample, and he's only at 40% on a 2020 sample, but if we had a bit more we'd go with it. Look at the distribution of their scores above - Whitlock and Anderson are scoring exactly the same per turn when winning legs, while Whitlock's scoring a lot more in losing legs. Ando hasn't hit a single twelve in the tournament. If Simon can keep plodding away and not give Gary many chances to break in fifteen darts, this could happen.

I'm almost tempted to stab at Dimitri here. We're getting 11/10 and on twelve months form, he's up around 60%, but this drops to 55%, but Adie's hitting enough good legs. In a weird change in consistency, Lewis is playing complete trash when he's losing legs, while Dimitri's scoring more or less the same throughout, but Adrian should be able to find enough good legs to get home half the time here.

0.5u Durrant 1/3, I think Vincent's gone as far as he can go here. Duzza looks so incredibly solid and I can't see Vincent keeping up the rate at which he's been hitting twelve darters, especially at key moments. On 2020 form this looks to be a near 90% chance for Glen, over the last twelve months it's just under 85%. This is also a fairly long match, which I think given Vincent's litany of injury issues might further play into Glen's hands more than any other matchup we have here.

Two punts, and they're on the two players I'm thinking reach the final, best of luck everyone.

Wednesday, 22 July 2020

The Matchplay has jumped the shark

Seriously, what the hell happened last night? First we had Dimitri play up to a level that we've not seen before for this length of time, then we saw possibly the biggest upset in Matchplay history with Whitlock taking out MvG to gift Wright the title make this the most open event in a long, long time. Quarters in the top half of Whitlock/Ando and Smith/Ratajski look fairly tasty (well, the second does anyway, but Gary I still don't think looked particularly great, so maybe Whitlock has his chances. Michael against Krzsyztof should be good fun in any case, credit to Clemens and Suljovic for making their matches so good.

Bottom half tonight, eight players will become four, let's have a look:

Gurney/van der Voort - Odds look alright in this one. While my system hasn't liked Gurney, it's showing him winning just shy of three in four over 12 months worth of data, and maybe slightly more than that on 2020 form. He is available at 2/5 so there's an argument to go with Daryl, particularly if you do think that my projections underrate him, but I'll err on the side of caution for this one, a 92 conventional average in round 1 isn't that big a deal, if he'd slotted in 100 or something I might have gone with it. Vincent frankly played better in beating a much stronger opponent in the openers.

van den Bergh/Cullen - Market has Dimitri as a small favourite. I think it's not quite right, the Belgian should be a bit shorter than he actually is, over both samples I used he should claim this about two in three, and while Cullen didn't exactly beat a bad player, he should have lost that game while Aspinall is at least as good as White and Dimitri didn't look like losing at all. I'm so tempted to go against Joe, while my projections are based on winning legs, and it'd become a bit closer if we look at everything, their losing averages are within a quarter of a point of each other. I should probably go with it, but I won't. If there's a flood of money on Joe and Dimitri gets to evens then I'll punt.

Wright/Durrant - This could be the match of the tournament, whoever wins this one has a real chance to bink. Market says around 65/35 for Peter, which looks close enough to me, I'm seeing Snakebite's chances at 68% for either sample, although in running it might be a touch closer given Glen's incredible game in the opening round. Either way, I'll duck it - if you like Glen's side, I'd be tempted to just back him for the tournament each way, as I don't see anyone else that's left on this side of the draw as being a serious threat.

Noppert/Lewis - The bookies have this evens. How times change, but Danny taking out Price will do that for you. It's not enough of an adjustment though, 0.25u Noppert evs, my projections are seeing this as 2-1 in favour of the Dutchman over twelve month stats, and near three in four over 2020 stats. What's especially worrying were some of Adie's comments after the Beaton game, I can't find them precisely but they weren't exactly those of someone full of confidence, which is exactly what Noppert should be. So we've finally found a bet, take Danny.

Quarter final previews tonight I guess, probably do them all in one go.

Tuesday, 21 July 2020

Matchplay day 4 thoughts - day 3 not so good

Still can't quite understand how White managed to blow that lead he had against Cullen, or how Chisnall capitulated against van der Voort (in that last one, Vincent at least got two very good breaks, but Chizzy could have broke in fifteen in any leg after the break but wasn't even on a double in any of them). Beaton losing out, meh, Lewis played alright I guess although Beaton in the final leg was incredibly disappointing.

We've just got the Aspinall/DvdB game to round out round one, then we've got all the top half of round two. I only really have lunch to look at these, so I'll be brief (and go in running order):

Smith/Suljovic - Mensur's pretty tempting at slightly odds against, I have to say. On 2020 form it's a flip slightly in favour of Michael, but on twelve months form it's more like 55/45 in favour of the Austrian, so 13/10 is close to worth it, especially with Suljovic having played well in round one. I'll pass on it though, Smith didn't play badly and the game will have taken a lot less out of him.

Anderson/Wade - Hmm, Ando is a lot more favoured over 12 month stats than I thought he would be, it's like 65% which seems a bit ridiculous. Over 2020 stats it's more like he should be a 10/11 favourite and that's it, I'd have guessed Wade might be a bit closer than that. With that 2020 form, Wade at 6/5 just doesn't do it for me, the relative first round games would point to James, but I'll pass again.

van Gerwen/Whitlock - van Gerwen isn't quite good enough in this one to be worth the bet, he's 1/9 so we'd need 90%, and we only get up to 80-85%. That's not good enough to bet Whitlock either obviously.

Clemens/Ratajski - Seems like the line's right again. 65/35 in favour of the Pole, which is more or less bang on the 4/7 you can get. Cut it down to 2020 data (which, as mentioned before, is somewhat tainted by Gabriel's lolworthy performances in Germany) and it becomes heavily in favour of Krzysztof, but without filtering out the Superleague I'm not sure how big an exaggeration it will be.

As such, no recommended plays today. I might dump what's remaining from the sole win in round 1 on a Mensur/Wade/MvG/Ratajski acca just for the sake of it.

Sunday, 19 July 2020

Some quick Matchplay thoughts

I said I wasn't going to post until round 2 bets, but I've got a bit of time this morning so will post some things. I've not watched the actual games, and just looked at the dartsdata results, so if I'm off based on that not reflecting gameflow, then fair enough, but here we go:

- How poor was Whitlock? 10-4 looks like a bit of a dicking, but he only won three of those legs in fifteen darts, the first two legs (where Joyce was hovering on 41 after 12 and 88) and the last one (where Joyce got himself on 87 after 9 then missed four darts at double). In between those, it was a whole heap of junk and if Joyce could have just got steady fifteens with any regularity he'd have rolled all over Whitlock, in those intervening 11 legs he won four and had doubles in another five.

- How good was Ratajski? Five twelve dart or better legs, only two going beyond fifteen darts, in the legs Wattimena did nick Krzysztof was averaging 102, that's very, very dangerous form and Cross or Clemens, whoever comes through, could be in a world of trouble if Ratajski gets even close to that. Sadly I think the secret's out enough on Ratajski now, even before tonight, so it wouldn't surprise me if he's priced as the favourite against Cross (he clearly would be against Clemens).

- That's super solid stuff from Wade, and super mediocre stuff from Anderson. Gary only managed half his legs in fifteen or better (mostly after the final break, it was 5-5 at that point and Pipe was hanging around fine), whereas Wade only had two of his twelve legs go beyond that mark (which incorporates the twelve he had to open the game). Anderson's the favourite, but without running the figures, I really don't think he should be.

- van Gerwen's numbers didn't look awe inspiring. Dolan did alright to hold things together at 7-7, but Michael, like Gary, only put together five legs in fifteen or better (admittedly two were four visit kills), and if it weren't for missed doubles, Brendan could have taken this. Two missed in leg 2, six in leg 4, and four more in the final legs were the key ones, take those and it's 10-7 the other way around.

We didn't have any bets yesterday, today's the first big one with three today and then three on Monday, I'll probably pop in this evening with some quick thoughts, I'll see how it goes. There's only the two second round games set up, I've said that my gut is thinking Wade will be value, but maybe Michael at 1/9 could actually be worth the play? It's really, really hard to be a 90% favourite, but even so...

Saturday, 18 July 2020

Matchplay round 1 bets

I've posted up the projections, scoring and analysis for everything now, so let's look match by match and see what we'll go with.

Whitlock/Joyce - nothing here. Market has it as a flip, I can't see it as anything really different than that, Simon has just enough to justify being the tiniest of tiny favourites at 5/6. Carl Fletcher's gone for at least 16 legs at 2/5, that seems alright to me if you're wanting to punt on everything or to add a bit of value to an acca, Joyce is a worlds quarter finalist so it's not as if we're going to see him bink a Pro Tour out of nowhere then shit the bed on the TV stage.

Ratajski/Wattimena - nothing here either. 23/10 on Jermaine looks half tempting if you're looking at the full length stats, but it'd only be marginal at best and in 2020, Krzysztof's winning chances look more in line with the 4/11 that you can get. You might want to consider Jermaine on a handicap where you're getting paid out 4/6 or something like that, but it's easiest just to move on.

Wade/Brown - same price as the above match. Keegan has shortened slightly since I posted the top half to the point where it's just about put me off a bet. It's probably just about marginal value, but everything is telling me that Keegan will not be able to hold his game together against a player like James on current form for long enough to get over the line often enough. If he can come out of the blocks quickly and get to half time at 5-5, maybe even 6-4 down, he could make it interesting, but I don't want a part of it.

van Gerwen/Dolan - nothing here again. van Gerwen is usually an auto lay, but in the longer format of the Matchplay, Brendan simply doesn't win often enough to make 7/1 look like even small value. Michael should be pretty comfortable and did look real good in the Summer Series.

Anderson/Pipe - would usually go with Justin here, he was playing well enough that he should be able to hang around with Gary for long enough that the 10/3 being offered would be a good play, but with Justin having needed to pull out of the back end of the Summer Series through injury, I can't recommend anything and am taking this one off the board, so there's nothing to recommend on day 1.

Suljovic/Hughes - and there's nothing immediate on day 2 either. The bookies are pricing Mensur at 8/11, which equates to having win chances in the high 50's, exactly where my projections are putting him. Nothing of value whatsoever here, Carl's done similar to the Whitlock game on an over leg count, can't say I like it as much here as I think there's enough results where Hughes has bad visits or Suljovic pulls away and we miss out.

Durrant/de Zwaan - 0.25u Durrant 1/2, I think we've got our first play here, it's not for much as the twelve month data makes this look like a fair line, but on 2020 data this should be nearer to 1/3 Durrant. Jeffrey was I guess struggling with the injury that saw him pull out of the Home Tour, and picking up just two grand in the Summer Series doesn't make me think he's improved back to the level where Glen doesn't easily take this at least two times out of three.

Cross/Clemens - no bet. I'm thinking both players are in the underrated category at this stage, while Rob has a bit of separation from the big three, he's still really good, while Clemens is capable of beating any seeds at this stage. 7/5 doesn't offer any value at all, maybe the Clemens secret's out, or maybe the bookies are sleeping on both players. Who knows. Whatever it is, we're not betting.

Wright/de Sousa - 0.25u de Sousa 11/5, this is a real tough draw for Peter, Jose is an extremely dangerous player who's continued his excellent level of play from the back end of 2019 into 2020, to the point where my projection model actually spits Jose out as a tiny favourite on 2020 data. On longer data he's only just up to 40% but that's still more than worth the shot at a price that's better than 2/1.

Smith/Clayton - 0.25u Clayton 13/10, Jonny's really, really good and extremely underrated, Smith's not done a huge amount in 2020, or since last year's Matchplay for that matter, the 6/4 that was available when I was looking at this match earlier in the week is long gone, but with the Welshman projecting as a solid 60%+ favourite whichever data we use and scoring more points per turn, we don't need to think getting better than even money.

Chisnall/van der Voort - 0.5u Chisnall 2/5, this looks like a safe play, Vincent's scoring is one of the worst in the field while Chisnall's all round game continues to improve, as well as being one of the heaviest scorers in the game today. The projections I have say this ought to be more in the region of 2/7, maybe 1/4, so 2/5 looks tasty enough, I really cannot see van der Voort doing this. The price is only available on Skybet, elsewhere is 1/3 or worse so grab this quick.

White/Cullen - 0.5u White 4/7, another Skybet special but the generally available 1/2 is still good, Cullen simply isn't in White's league as we saw last year and I just don't see how the projections that I have which give White winning three in four over twelve months data and seven in eight on 2020 data are in any way inaccurate. Better than 1/2 is really tasty and probably the bet of the round.

Gurney/Evans - no bet, Gurney's priced up at 2/5 which is probably a little bit on the short side, but it's really nothing much and I can't say that Daryl is a great matchup for Ricky stylistically speaking, Gurney should be able to grind this one out comfortably enough.

Price/Noppert - this is almost worth the shot on Danny, 11/4 is an alright price when I'm thinking this should be more of a 1/2 sort of game, especially if you're taking the opinion that Price plays his best when he feeds off a crowd which sadly isn't a factor right now. I'll give it a miss, Danny's someone who I think might not quite have the extra gear that he'd need to hang with Gerwyn if the Iceman's on form.

Lewis/Beaton - 0.25u Beaton 11/8, this is more on 2020 data than anything where I can't separate the two on more or less anything, Lewis has been pretty mediocre there and I'm not sure why he pulled out of the last Pro Tour before the draw, on full year's data the line looks right, but I'm thinking all of Steve's experience will allow him to adapt better than Adie to this situation.

Aspinall/van den Bergh - no bet to finish off. Nathan's priced at 2/5, so more or less a 70/30 game, the Belgian's certainly not without his chances, but is going to need to hit his top game to live with Nathan, who's become one of the most consistent players on the circuit. If he does so then he could certainly pull it out, Dimitri's peak is certainly comparable with Nathan's, but can he do it in this sort of environment is the big question. We'll see.

I probably won't be watching much of the first round, so I probably won't be back until round 2 bets unless something crazy goes on. See you then.

Friday, 17 July 2020

Matchplay preview - bottom half

Better late than never...

(2) Peter Wright v Jose de Sousa

2020 data - Wright 48.6%, 96.39 ppt, de Sousa 51.4%, 95.30 ppt
12 months data - Wright 59.1%, 96.16 ppt, de Sousa 40.9%, 94.20 ppt

Oh boy, this is a great one. We've got the world champion against arguably the most dangerous non-seed in the field. And the bookies are respecting the Portuguese ace to a fair respect - he's only just longer than 2/1. Anyone that's not seen Jose play (and it's fairly easy to miss for the casual viewer) might be surprised at this, but it's an accurate enough assessment to me. I'm reluctant to automatically suggest a bet, given it is to the best of my knowledge the first time that Jose will be going up against an elite calibre player like Peter on this sort of stage, but if you take de Sousa I can't say you're getting the worst of it.

(15) Glen Durrant v Jeffrey de Zwaan

2020 data - Durrant 79.8%, 93.92 ppt, de Zwaan 20.2%, 88.88 ppt
12 months data - Durrant 66.9%, 93.46 ppt, de Zwaan 33.1%, 91.13 ppt

This might have been a tough match for Glen at some point in time, but I'm not seeing the issue if we look at more recent form. I believe Jeffrey said in a recent interview that he was having some sort of injury issue, which is enough for me to think there's no value in the Dutch kid, the line's basically 2-1 in favour of Duzza, so if we're going to go with any sort of gun to the head prediction it'll be with the Teesside native.

(7) Daryl Gurney v Ricky Evans

2020 data - Gurney 63.6%, 92.97 ppt, Evans 36.4%, 90.15 ppt
12 months data - Gurney 70.3%, 92.68 ppt, Evans 29.7%, 89.46 ppt

This is quite the clash of styles, and it's probably pitting two of the lower end players in each pool against each other. I've been bearish on both players for some time now, neither's really inspired confidence, although Gurney looking competent enough in spots over the Summer Series is probably enough for me to lean in his direction. It's not going to be a bet by any stretch of the imagination, he's 2/5 which is insane against anyone putting up enough results on the Pro Tour to qualify, but he should take it.

(10) Dave Chisnall v Vincent van der Voort

2020 data - Chisnall 80.6%, 91.40 ppt, van der Voort 19.4%, 88.54 ppt
12 months data - Chisnall 78.8%, 92.98 ppt, van der Voort 21.2%, 89.62 ppt

This'll be a nice game to watch. This should be incredibly fun, both players will likely play into each other's strengths, go along at a good clip, the only problem is that Chizzy's that much better than Vincent that it's probably not going to be interesting as a contest. Vincent's been alright in 2020 but hasn't done enough to make me think that my projections are off, and with Dave at 2/5 that's possibly tempting for a bet recommendation.

(3) Gerwyn Price v Danny Noppert

2020 data - Price 67.8%, 96.33 ppt, Noppert 32.2%, 94.00 ppt
12 months data - Price 66.0%, 94.76 ppt, Noppert 34.0%, 92.58 ppt

Bottom quarter - Noppie's got a tough draw, but so has Gerwyn. Danny's probably one of the most underrated players on the circuit, despite having made the World Series finals at the back end of last year and finding himself in the business end of floor tournaments more often than not. Make no mistake, Danny would be a huge threat to a number of seeds in this event, it's just unfortunate he's drawn Price - while there's probably a small amount of value with Noppie being the right side of 3/1, and while he'll probably be a recommended play, it's not anything to go crazy about.

(14) Adrian Lewis v Steve Beaton

2020 data - Lewis 49.8%, 90.20 ppt, Beaton 50.2%, 90.13 ppt
12 months data - Lewis 58.3%, 90.15 ppt, Beaton 41.7%, 90.14 ppt

How is Lewis still in the top 16? What's he done? No idea really, I guess he's done just enough in the worlds to hang around, without ever being someone who'll threaten to bink something huge, despite having the clear talent to do so and having shown the ability to go deep enough on the floor to keep ticking over. We know what we're getting with Beaton, it's maybe not a surprise that the bookies list this 60/40. I don't think there's going to be value in this one.

(6) Nathan Aspinall v Dimitri van den Bergh

2020 data - Aspinall 67.8%, 94.15 ppt, van den Bergh 32.2%, 90.75 ppt
12 months data - Aspinall 60.6%, 93.41 ppt, van den Bergh 39.4%, 91.23 ppt

This could be spicy. Aspinall's very much transcended the path from very good to the world's elite, that he is the #6 seed doesn't seem an exaggeration in the slightest, he is that good. Dimitri's managed to do enough on the floor whereby he's got into this, it's a bastard draw, and I think the issue is that Dimitri may not be able to get up for what is, for all intents and purposes, a floor tournament having taken a couple of speedballs. The market has it around the line that I'm projecting, the Belgian's been somewhat overrated in my rankings historically because of his up and down nature, so if there is any value here it'll be on the Stockport native.

(11) Ian White v Joe Cullen

2020 data - White 87.3%, 95.67 ppt, Cullen 12.7%, 90.43 ppt
12 months data - White 76.2%, 95.12 ppt, Cullen 23.8%, 90.84 ppt

This game simply isn't interesting. This time last year, these two drew each other, and White smacked Cullen up 10-0. Yes, since then, Joe's managed to grab a Euro Tour, which is nice, but it'd take an incredible display of character to be able to pull this one out. With Ian being the right side of 2/1 on and with my projections looking as they are, I don't see how I don't lump on the Stoke native here.

Bets tomorrow.

Tuesday, 14 July 2020

Matchplay preview - top half

Let's do some previews.

(1) Michael van Gerwen v Brendan Dolan

2020 data - MvG 82.9%, 96.59 ppt, Dolan 17.1%, 91.25 ppt
12 months data - MvG 84.1%, 96.38 ppt, Dolan 15.9%, 91.38 ppt

Can't look past van Gerwen in this one. Michael is, perhaps as standard these days, a bit overvalued, but Brendan is only floating around at 7/1, which with his projected winning chances isn't in the slightest bit tempting. With a solid five points per turn lead on any sample you like, van Gerwen should cruise through, it's always a bit of a concern when a Pro Tour qualifier is here basically on the back of two wins from the previous calendar year. Sure, Brendan did get a final in the severely weakened pre-lockdown Pro Tour weekend, but he didn't beat anyone really useful prior to Wade in the semi. Easy one to avoid for me.

(16) Simon Whitlock v Ryan Joyce

2020 data - Whitlock 59.1%, 92.13 ppt, Joyce 40.9%, 92.59 ppt
12 months data - Whitlock 49.4%, 90.90 ppt, Joyce 50.6%, 91.86 ppt

Here's one that's a bit more even. I'm not entirely sure how Whitlock is still in the top 16 in the world, but he is, and clings on to the last seeding, which is handy as his Pro Tour results are nowhere, and only earned a fifth of what Joyce did all week compared to what Ryan did in the one event he won in the Summer Series. The bookies have this fairly close with Simon as the small favourite - he has a little bit of an edge that is almost worth exploring, but when you consider that Ryan's scoring more per turn in both samples, clearly has the form, and it looks like a flip over the twelve month data set, we can ignore this one as well.

(8) Gary Anderson v Justin Pipe

2020 data - Anderson 53.1%, 94.13 ppt, Pipe 46.9%, 90.92 ppt
12 months data - Anderson 57.9%, 94.14 ppt, Pipe 42.1%, 91.81 ppt

I think given Pipe picking up an injury we need to take this one off the board in terms of considering betting, which is a shame, as looking at those stats, Pipe looks moderately tempting at 10/3. Anderson's got a fair bit of pressure on him with him defending a title, but really ought to have no trouble - I assume Pipe's final right after the cutoff last year is more or less responsible for him having got over the line, and his work in 2020 is nowhere near the level it was in 2019. Ando does have a floor win this year as well, which is a useful data point to have, he should at least get through this one.

(9) James Wade v Keegan Brown

2020 data - Wade 61.9%, 92.37 ppt, Brown 38.1%, 89.77 ppt
12 months data - Wade 64.6%, 91.78 ppt, Brown 35.4%, 89.13 ppt

Not really sure how Brown's got here, it certainly feels like he's fallen over the line, seems to be a lot of last 32, last 32, last 16 and just chipping away and getting to board finals. Wade won last week and has had a much better track record over the last 12 months in almost all formats. With Keegan only having picked up the three wins in the Summer Series, and with his well publicised NHS work, I've got to wonder how sharp he's really going to be, while the odds (Brown is 5/2) are close to looking worth it, I can't help but feel that right now my stats are overvaluing him enough that it's not a bet, the format certainly is one that should favour James quite heavily.

(4) Rob Cross v Gabriel Clemens

2020 data - Cross 70.9%, 92.88 ppt, Clemens 29.1%, 90.49 ppt
12 months data - Cross 58.5%, 92.98 ppt, Clemens 41.5%, 91.74 ppt

A word of caution here, the 2020 dataset includes Gabriel's performances in the German Superleague, which, at least in the group stages, seemed someway off his best, seemingly not needing to get out of second gear against most of his opposition. The German number one makes his debut against the defending champion in what should be a very interesting tie, the market has Clemens at just 6/4, which is roughly the sort of ballpark we'd expect if we're looking at the twelve month data set, Cross has probably switched to underrated at this stage, but Gabriel should certainly be in that category to go with it. There's a worry about Clemens' relative lack of TV performances, but with his semi final last week he's at least playing well enough that this should be competitive.

(13) Krzysztof Ratajski v Jermaine Wattimena

2020 data - Ratajski 71.3%, 94.62 ppt, Wattimena 28.7%, 91.08 ppt
12 months data - Ratajski 64.6%, 93.65 ppt, Wattimena 35.4%, 91.18 ppt

Another leader in the underrated stakes (at least amongst casuals and the bookies given we can still keep finding him in our auto bet rankings), Ratajski comes in as a seed with a decent enough draw against Wattimena, still looking for his first ranking title but having picked up an alright TV run at the Grand Prix last year. Krzysztof's priced up at just the wrong side of 1/2, which feels about right and looking at the stats such has been the quality of his play over the last couple of years. It feels like forever since Jermaine has made his name, and while he's made continuous improvement he doesn't yet feel like a top 16 quality player, and Ratajski should be able to deal with Jermaine easily enough, a reputation of being a consistent board winner and occasionally a bit further isn't going to cut it against someone with multiple ranking titles.

(5) Michael Smith v Jonny Clayton

2020 data - Smith 33.9%, 92.65 ppt, Clayton 66.1%, 93.99 ppt
12 months data - Smith 38.0%, 92.44 ppt, Clayton 62.0%, 92.93 ppt

One of the most interesting matches of the round, Smith is still in the top 5 in the world primarily based on his world final, and last year's finalist gets an incredibly tough draw against Clayton, who's quite easily been performing at a better level than Smith of late, at least that's what the stats are showing. Smith's had a final in the one Euro Tour this year, but has been somewhat lacking outside of that. The UK Open semi finalist is continually overlooked, and while his scoring is a bit one sided in terms of winning legs, 6/4 looks very tempting.

(12) Mensur Suljovic v Jamie Hughes

2020 data - Suljovic 56.8%, 92.53 ppt, Hughes 43.2%, 91.57 ppt
12 months data - Suljovic 58.6%, 92.69 ppt, Hughes 41.4%, 91.24 ppt

Last year Hughes finished off a red hot start to 2019 with a win in the red hot location of Prague to sneak into the Matchplay by the back door, since then, it's hard to recall exactly what he's done to qualify this year - looks to be mostly decent appearances in Europe (although whether all of these counted for ranking money is something I don't recall). Suljovic is hanging around the top 16 in the world and playing to a good enough standard that he's rightly the favourite here, the price of 4/6 looking like it's the right ballpark, since Hughes' bink he's managed a Euro bink of his own as well as  a Pro Tour win, the numbers appear reasonable for this one.

Will do the bottom half either tomorrow or Thursday, depends on what I'm doing after the Leicester game really.

Sunday, 12 July 2020

Summer Series done, onto the Matchplay

Meant to post yesterday, but got a little bit too excited after thumping Chelsea, my apologies. So the Summer Series is in the books, Wadey binked yesterday and then today, despite the best efforts of Devon Petersen (and, to a lesser extent, John Henderson), we got more or less the field for the Matchplay we expected after we got a Wright/Price final, which Peter took. The new FRH top 20:

1 Michael van Gerwen
2 Peter Wright
3 Gerwyn Price
4 Rob Cross
5 Nathan Aspinall
6 Michael Smith
7 Daryl Gurney
8 Glen Durrant
9 Dave Chisnall
10 James Wade (UP 1)
11 Ian White (DOWN 1)
12 Krzysztof Ratajski (UP 1)
13 Gary Anderson (DOWN 1)
14 Mensur Suljovic
15 Chris Dobey
16 Stephen Bunting (UP 1)
17 Adrian Lewis (DOWN 1)
18 Jonny Clayton
19 Dimitri van den Bergh
20 Joe Cullen

Wade sneaks into the top 10 with his victory and generally much better form this week than White, Ratajski flies past a fairly mediocre Gary Anderson (who, it should be noted, is defending a title at the Matchplay which is a huge reason why he's a lot higher in the orthodox rankings than here), while Bunting, who wasn't able to get into the Matchplay field, did enough to sneak past Lewis back into the top 16.

Lower down, title winner Ryan Joyce sits at #42 just behind Jose de Sousa, the impressive Petersen's just 4k outside the top 50 now, today's surprise semi finalist Wayne Jones is into the top 90, Scott Baker has hit the top 100, and Jason Lowe should get there as well by the end of the week I'd think. Martijn Kleermaker had a good week and is at #110. Aaron Beeney is up at #287, after he was able to gain his first win of the season.

Here's who played well this week:

And here's not so much:

Some interesting names on the first list - Noppert, Clayton and Humphries continue to throw good stuff and stay under the radar, while Scott Mitchell sneaking into the top 20 is a bit of a surprise. After a fairly poor start to being a card holder, it's good to see Callan Rydz getting into the swing of things, that 11-20 lineup containing a great bunch of North East talent. In the bottom list, I don't know what Waites and McGeeney are up to, I wouldn't necessarily have expected to see both of those that low down. Probably chuck Dave Pallett into there as well, but other than that I think it's mostly the names we'd expect to see.

The Matchplay draw is done. I'm not going to analyse it to death tonight, we've got a week's lead time, but Joyce got the plum draw against Whitlock, Clemens/Cross should be very good, Clayton could easily make the quarters, de Sousa getting Wright is harsh but probably the pick of the ties (Noppie getting Price isn't nice either), nobody really wants to see a White/Cullen rematch but it is what it is, and has anyone got an easier run to the quarters than Dave Chisnall?

I think I'll take a bit more of a look by quarter, maybe one per day. Be back soon.

Saturday, 11 July 2020

Three down, two to go

Firstly, apologies for lack of posting during the first time we've had ranked darts back since forever, it's been a really weird combination of work and non-darts stuff that's limited me somewhat, it's never going to be easy to do this sort of thing on a midweek, but the timing was really not great just now. So we're back, and I think it's fair to say there's been quite a few surprises - nobody would ever think that van Gerwen winning one would be a shock, but winning two in this sort of format which you'd think wasn't ideally suited to his style of play might raise a few eyebrows. Then again, he's still the best player in the world (sorry Peter/Gerwyn), and in the brief amount of the games I've seen, it's been nowhere near as stop/start as the German Superleague was. The big shock was Ryan Joyce binking his first title, well done, that ten grand has pretty much locked a spot at this stage, and also got to give a shout out to Aaron Beeney for getting onto the board with a good win over Scott Waites.

Courtesy of the Weekly Dartscast Twitter feed, the current race looks like this:

It's hard to say who's going to be completely safe, I'd be surprised if enough combination of people go on runs to knock out Dimitri, Beaton's a different question as it's just needing three people to do not much. That extra £500 that the Belgian had makes a big difference, especially in the context of the roads for the four behind him - they're seeded 32, 31, 30 and 29 respectively, so today Searle, Evans, Brown and Beaton are on the same boards as Price, Wright, Ratajski and Suljovic. Good luck getting more than a grand out of that, but who knows it can happen. DvdB doesn't have the most favourable board himself, getting MvG, but against Stevenson first round then probably Kuivenhoven, you'd think he'd get a grand a fair bit of the time and £500 most of the time.

Let's quickly chuck up who's scoring the best just in the three events so far:

You weren't expecting de Sousa number 1, were you? Let's have a look at who's just on the bubble who might play in on this list. Dobey could, but has so much work to do - he needs a final one day or another, two semis just won't cut it, and his board today is really spicy, Whitlock first round (who's not been playing too badly) then Aspinall before someone else moderately dangerous, that's tricky. Bunting doesn't look too bad and is a lot closer, one semi might be enough, he's got Jacques and then probably Durrant, so while it's a tough ask, even that 500 quid might give him enough to keep him within a quarter final on Sunday. Searle we've mentioned, if he can get through Price it's not necessarily all plain sailing from there as Cross is on an adjacent board. Lowe continues to look good but it too far away, Petersen continues to look solid enough, and on the Gurney/Clemens board, he's not got the trickiest thing to deal with in the world, although with van Gerwen on the next board, Devon's probably capped at £1500 for the day which would mean a final's necessary on the Sunday. Luke Humphries has a bit of a chance - he's got Beaton first up, then likely Kleermaker, Suljovic and Clayton, which isn't a real tricky task to get to a quarter. If he does that he's within a board win of making it in all probability, so who knows.

Of those on the bubble who have disappointed? West has done little but we weren't expecting much, so let's look down to Hendo - god knows what he's doing, and he's now got Ross Smith and then Peter Wright. He was looking really good, but is scoring a pedestrian 87 and change per turn - pretty much identical to West. Baker, Leung and Kciuk are games he should be winning, even one extra win from those tournaments puts him level with Bunting. King's probably the biggest name that's outside who might creep in, but we can't really say he's disappointed - Wednesday/Thursday he won the games he should then lost to Michaels Smith/van Gerwen respectively, then drew Smith again yesterday. It's hard to say it gets easier when you draw a multiple major champion, but Gurney isn't the worst out in round one for Mervyn.

I think the Matchplay's now looking like three from four between 14-17 on the Pro Tour rankings. I think that gap from Searle to Huybrechts is significant at this stage, if you assume that nobody's standing still. Sure, two first round defeats are entirely possible, but Searle should beat Dave Pallett and have a good chance against an improving Callan Rydz, Evans has a real potential banana skin in Boris Krcmar but his round two opponent (probably Lennon) isn't that bad, Beaton's got a tough one as mentioned above in Humphries, while Keegan Brown has Darren Penhall then McGeeney or Menzies. Stick on what you think they'll get out of those, and then maybe another £500 tomorrow, and that's a big amount to catch up without, realistically, a final run. Huybrechts out of interest has van der Voort, then probably Webster then White (or maybe DvD if Dirk can get going), so I wouldn't be counting on Kim to tear things up either.

We'll know a lot more by this evening - I'll be watching our game vs Chelsea when we're at the real business end, but expect something when we've really trimmed down the possibilities. Watch Luke Woodhouse bink from nowhere and ruin everyone's projections.

Wednesday, 8 July 2020

PC9 draw out

Let's look for the value in this one. Here's something I've not done before, simply plot player's averages by board in a graphical form:

Now, irritatingly enough, I can't for the life of me find the option to display data labels, so I can't tell you who each little dot is, but it should be clear enough what I'm trying to do here - the dotted lines break the tournament into quarters, so let's see who we like. This data is filtered to 2020 information.

The first players that jump out are the players over 95 - van Gerwen on 3, White on 7 and Wright on 9. The only issue with two of these is they're quite short, with van Gerwen on just the right side of 3/1 and Wright a second favourite at 8/1. So we'll look at White - perennial value, and look at the enormous difference on his board between him and everyone else (and, for that matter, board 8 as well). Sure it doesn't help that he's in the same half as van Gerwen and Price, but at as much as 50/1 in one place, that's got to be worth the shot.

Who else might we like? Let's look at who has a decent bit of separation on his board to everyone else. Board 13 is jumping out to me, the blue dot is Krzysztof Ratajski, who's got a nice bit of separation between the rest of his board, and only Smith (Michael) on the adjacent board that looks in the same ballpark, so with him available at 40/1, I'll go for that value. The format is surely going to favour Ratajski as opposed to Smith massively, while that board 15 is a concern (that is the Aspinall/Anderson board), the bet surely has to be on the Pole here.

One final player I'd be tempted to have a look at is Glen Durrant - tipped by Edgar to do stuff, he's the highest dot on board 12, and while his board looks a bit dangerous on paper, he should be alright at 25/1. But what about board 11? That's missing a dot just below the pink one at the bottom as I can't spell Kirk Shepherd, but the guy at the top is Jason Lowe - and you can get 500/1! That's got to be worth a few pence of anyone's money.

Saturday, 4 July 2020

MAD Magazine

I'm a touch confused as to what Steve Brown's actually doing. He's done great work with the JDC, let's make no mistake there, but as far as I can see, the latest tweets he's put out are, as well as having gone through no spellchecking whatsoever, seemingly trying to create a huge network of amateur level events.

I mean this is fine, but if there's one thing that we've learned from the last quarter century of darts, then it's that splits help nobody and just cause shitloads of friction. I've not read a huge deal into it yet, until there's something professional I'm not going to bother, but what it looks like is a replica of the superleague/county level things, albeit with slightly larger catchment areas in each of them respectively.

What's this going to achieve? By all accounts, the whole superleague/county setup was largely self contained and immune from the whole BDO shitshow, and for the most part they're all diverting into one of a couple of separate entities (I've seen UKDA, Tri Nations, god knows what else). Making yet another rival thing, I really don't see the purpose. Someone give me a clue what's going on.

Friday, 3 July 2020

RIP Matchplay

At least as we know it. Was announced a couple of days ago that it will be behind closed doors - I think we all accepted this would be inevitable, but there was maybe a bit of hope given the boozers are open tomorrow (thank god), still, it is what it is. The question now is who is this going to help - there's a few things in play here, I asked this on the Weekly Dartscast a couple of weeks ago, but here's what I'm thinking.

The biggest thing I'm thinking is the heat, or lack of it. Blackpool, as far as I know, was always one of the hotter venues, whereas behind closed doors, while you're still going to have some TV lights, it's not going to be quite the same as a packed Winter Gardens. This might have helped out the likes of Mervyn King, and disadvantaged someone like Jamie Hughes who excelled in the furnace that was Prague last year, but neither are looking too likely to qualify in any case.

Then you've got the lack of crowd noise. I don't think this is going to make a huge difference, I think anyone that's one way on a stage player:floor player line is going to find themselves somewhat in the middle.

Final thing is tempo. Matt Edgar alluded to this somewhat on one of his recent videos, and says he'd be surprised if Glen Durrant, who's very much on the deliberate side of a deliberate:natural scale, doesn't win one of the Summer Series events. Here it's hard to disagree, someone who has a bit more of a manufactured style will surely benefit - players like Ratajski, maybe Pipe, Dolan etc, who are going to take their time anyway will notice less of a difference than other more fluid players.

We'll see, fortunately there's five events that we can take a look at beforehand, and there's been a very nice turnout announced all things considered - 117 in and 11 out from tour card holders, we're missing both Heta and KAndo (assume they can't get out of the country), all the Spaniards (maybe some issues with returning?), Siepmann (which seems odd, with him having played a behind closed doors live event, this might have been the best shot he had to do something), and other Euros in Harms, Meeuwisse, Larsson, Kantele and Michael. Challenge Tour fill up list seems fairly standard, just can't wait until Wednesday now.

Sunday, 28 June 2020

It's ranked, thank god

PDC had a quick update a couple of days ago (removing the Kurz winning an Ally Pally spot headline which had a 404 error), their Summer Series is ranked, which is a clear enough indication that these events should be close to full strength, the points will count towards the Matchplay (obviously), and they're also chucking in a Grand Slam spot to whoever tops the rankings for these five events. That seems fine, they're probably going to have to rework a bunch of things with that event anyway (how the hell do they decide the non-PDC spots with their calendar decimated?) so throwing one spot at it looks alright to me.

As such, let's first throw up a new FRH rankings - we've not had an event since March, but these are a living, breathing thing which has seen 11 events drop off the radar since the last update, and two legends of the game in Ronnie Baxter and Prakash Jiwa fall off the rankings completely, but for now, the top 20:

1 Michael van Gerwen
2 Peter Wright
3 Gerwyn Price
4 Rob Cross
5 Nathan Aspinall
6 Michael Smith
7 Daryl Gurney
8 Glen Durrant (UP 3)
9 Dave Chisnall (DOWN 1)
10 Ian White (DOWN 1)
11 James Wade (DOWN 1)
12 Gary Anderson
13 Krzysztof Ratajski (UP 1)
14 Mensur Suljovic (DOWN 1)
15 Chris Dobey (UP 1)
16 Adrian Lewis (DOWN 1)
17 Stephen Bunting
18 Jonny Clayton
19 Dimitri van den Bergh (NEW)
20 Joe Cullen

Whitlock drops off completely, the big mover is Durrant (obvious when you think about it), Ratajski moves to the number 2 ranking for overseas players, also we see Dimitri crack the top 20 for what I think is the first time - having a very deep worlds run is going to have helped out massively with that.

So who's going to get in the Matchplay? The seeds look close to set looking at the PDC's Matchplay race, and in any case, the last two men in (Durrant and Ratajski) are going to be clearly safe on the Pro Tour anyway. Whitlock's only a couple of grand ahead of these two, and not close on the Pro Tour, but let's be realistic - Bunting, who's the last man out, is 18k back, which is going to require a heck of an effort to get in, even if you bink one you still require four quarter finals in the remainder to sneak in by a grand - assuming Whitlock stands still and does nothing. That seems a pretty huge long shot. So we'll just look at the Pro Tour race, we'll assume these are the seeds (courtesy of PDC's article):

For future reference I need to name files better, far too many images that start "matchplay". We'll also assume anyone that is Pipe and above is safe on the Pro Tour, as he's 5k clear of 17th right now - so Cullen, Dolan, Noppert, de Sousa, Wattimena, de Zwaan, Clayton, Clemens and Pipe are fine. One or two players might get above him, but all of the players below these as well isn't going to happen. So let's put together a list of the seven provisionally in, and down to 6k below the last man in (which oddly enough doesn't include Chris Dobey, but it's right, since the last Matchplay on the Pro Tour he's been pretty ordinary):

rank player cash money best 4 pro tour 2020 ppt
10 Jamie Hughes 22750 qf-16-16-64 90.80
11 Keegan Brown 22250 qf-32-32-32 90.35
12 Dimitri van den Bergh 22000 16-64-64 89.57
13 Steve Beaton 21500 qf-qf-32-64 90.32
14 Vincent van der Voort 21250 16-16-16-32 88.65
15 Ryan Searle 19000 win-32-32-32 90.69
16 Kim Huybrechts 18750 sf-32-64-64 90.84
17 Steve West 18500 32-32-64 89.49
18 Ricky Evans 18000 16-16-32-64 90.96
19 John Henderson 17750 32-32-32-64 92.65
20 Luke Humphries 17500 16-32-32-32 93.37
21 Ron Meulenkamp 15750 64-64 90.21
22 Stephen Bunting 15500 sf-16-16-64 91.62
23 Willie O'Connor 15250 qf-32-64-64 92.01
24 Ryan Joyce 15250 16-32-32-64 91.58
25 Mervyn King 15000 32-64-64-64 90.72
26 Devon Petersen 13250 sf-16-64 95.21
27 Mickey Mansell 13000 qf-16-32-32 89.69
28 Dirk van Duijvenbode 13000 sf-16-32-32 92.78
29 Ross Smith 13000 qf-16-32-64 90.92

Best four pro tour just considers the eight events played in that series. Let's start from the top - Hughes and Brown have enough of a combination of money in the bank, quality of play and results to be safe as houses. Beaton's probably the same. Dimitri hasn't been playing quite as well, or getting results, but with a semi final lead on enough people, he ought to be able to put one thing into place. Vincent's a funny one, statistically he's not been good, but he's been getting results, so again with enough in the bank he should be able to grind out enough to be safe.

This leaves a bunch of people scrapping for two spots I think. It really doesn't need much to be able to force your way in - but you need to be showing enough to not only get in, but to stay in, as there's a lot of people that are in the mix. There's a bit too much of a gap for the bottom four on this list, although Devon and Dirk are playing well enough that they can put together one really good event and throw themselves right up into the mix. King I think is in real trouble, just not getting results, Joyce looks in a much better position. O'Connor looks better again - higher standard of play, and has shown in fairly recent memory enough to be able to punch a ticket to Blackpool. Bunting is maybe similar. Meulenkamp we can probably chuck out, 2020 has not been kind to date. Humphries is probably the one player who's outside who can power in - his scoring is really good, he's not that far behind and he's been getting fairly consistent money, although having one very good run is going to help out a lot. Henderson's not playing that much worse, but results are a little bit worse, scoring's a little bit worse, and most people would feel he's not quite at Luke's level as of right now. Evans isn't showing enough to have any sort of edge among that group from 15th to 20th that makes me think he'll claim a spot, and West certainly isn't.

So can Searle and Huybrechts hold on? Searle definitely has a chance, he's won one this year and looks to have got the bad run he had well behind him at this stage, while Huybrechts I think is a bit more vulnerable - that semi final was in the one where we had all the withdrawals (although in fairness he did beat some good players), and he got 2k for free as a result of Belgium being the only place this year to hold a Euro Tour.

Outside of a Dobey bink, I don't think there's anyone outside of this list that's realistic, Damon Heta maybe, but he's even further behind than Dobey is so it's that much more of an ask.

One key thing here that's often overlooked is what the fields for these events are going to look like. The thing about the Pro Tour list is that those who are going to creep in are typically going to be around the low 20's and high 30's in the Pro Tour rankings right now - exactly those sorts of players who are going to get low seeds, and hence run into an elite player in the last 32 potentially, that can greatly limit your earning power. Is it better to know you're not going to get a seed in the first two rounds (although there's some really, really good non-seeds you can hit obviously) and be sure you're going to hit an MvG, Wright etc and have a good chance of ending up with 1k tops, or do you want to roll the dice on ending up in a random sector of the draw and get an easier seed, albeit in round 1 or 2? Tricky one to call, once we get entrant lists we can probably project a fair bit easier.